I thought maybe something new had happened here at my school, but it's just a link to a College Fix story about how a student group, The Student Coalition for Progress, is petitioning the UW to label Young Americans for Freedom a hate group.
I doubt if there's any chance that the UW will respond positively to this petition. It's ridiculously deceptive to make it look as though the UW had "labeled" YAF a hate group.
Yes, you've covered your ass with that "at" (instead of "by"), but few readers will resist jumping to the conclusion that the University took some action against the conservative group. Things happen at universities all the time. It's called freedom of speech. It's utterly dull and hardly worth mentioning that a group called The Student Coalition for Progress wants to stifle Young Americans for Freedom.
The College Fix story is new, but the petition is 3 weeks old. I blogged it here (on December 23rd.) Nothing new has happened. In fact, if you read past the first 5 paragraphs cut and pasted into Legal Insurrection — you'll have to get all the way to paragraph 17 over at College Fix — you'll see that a UW official is quoted saying:
"I do want to clarify that the petition itself does not represent the university position on the group or constitute a formal complaint against YAF."
Come on, Legal Insurrection! How many people are writing over there under a brand I associate with Cornell lawpro William A. Jacobson? The misleading article is by someone identified by first name only: Aleister. What's going on?
ADDED: And here's Roger Kimball, fooled by the headline and switching the preposition to "by":
YAF labelled “hate group” by UW Madison. What they hate is the despicable PC campaign against freedom on campus. https://t.co/8h6xVLXaN4— Roger Kimball (@rogerkimball) January 7, 2017
Glenn Reynolds also passed along the Legal Insurrection headline, but fortunately a commenter over there caught the problem. The most up-voted comment, by willbilson, is:
Um... somebody started a petition. YAF was never 'labeled as a hate group' by UW Madison. I mean, come on. Don't publish misleading headlines. I get clickbait, I guess, but come on...Kim Du Toit pushes back forcibly:
Feel free to take remedial reading lessons. The headline states that the YAF was labeled a hate group AT the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Not by.Would Kim Du Toit like to speak that nastily to the estimable Roger Kimball? The headline invites misreading, and we all need to keep our bullshit detectors tuned up.
And I suspect that Glenn himself read the headline to mean "by" and not just "at," because he introduces it with "TAXPAYER-FUNDED MARGINALIZATION."
AND: There's some debate in the comments here about how much Aleister simply passed on bad text written by College Fix and how much he contributed. In the course of that debate, Meade points out that Aleister begins with his own words: "This would be the same UW Madison which is currently offering a program about the problem of whiteness."
Aleister says that as if the UW were favoring the left over the right. But there is no inconsistency. Allowing a professor to teach a race studies course that examines what he chooses to call the problem of whiteness demonstrates UW's commitment to academic freedom. That commitment is consistent with support for the free speech of YAF and the rejection the Student Coalition for Progress's request that YAF be punished for its speech.
And it should be noted that The Student Coalition for Progress is engaging in free speech when it calls YAF a "hate" group and when it petitions the authorities to do something about YAF. The Student Coalition for Progress has important free speech rights. But we should observe and criticize what is bad about the speech of The Student Coalition for Progress, and that is the idea that government authorities should suppress speech.
Students in the Coalition should think harder about free speech, throw off their repressive enthusiasm for government control, and switch to using substantive arguments about whatever it is they don't like about what YAF is saying.
I am trying to encourage them to do this. The left used to be very enthusiastic about free speech. That's something that was likable about the left. The Student Coalition for Progress may think the way to win support for their ideas is to suppress other ideas.
That's not going to work, and they shouldn't want it to work. I predict that as long as they keep trying to make that work, they will fail to win much serious support from other people, even if they succeed in eliciting some genuflection when they bullshit about "hate."